Wyden/Cornyn Sex Trafficking Bill Passes Senate
Bill To Provide Aid for Victims of Sexual Slavery and Crackdown On Those Who Exploit Underage Girls Moves to the House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. – The United States Senate unanimously approved a bill to aid victims of modern sexual slavery and give law enforcement the tools to investigate and prosecute sex traffickers who exploit underage girls and force them into the sex trade. Sponsored by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act will create a six-state pilot program to help law enforcement crackdown on pimps and traffickers and create shelters, provide treatment, counseling, and legal aid for the underage girls that are forced into sexual slavery. This bill will be considered a model to help rescue the hundreds of thousands of underage girls believed to be forced into the sex trade in America. According to FBI estimates, more than 100,000 underage girls are exploited for commercial sex in the U.S. each year.
“Senator Cornyn and I have long believed that sex trafficking is modern day slavery and the poor young women forced into the sex trade are victims of the real criminals – the pimps and traffickers,” Wyden said. “Today, the United States Senate agreed with us. Not only will this bill create a working model to help these young women break the cycle of exploitation for good, it will provide new tools for law enforcement and prosecutors to put these modern day slave owners behind bars.”
“Our nation must remain committed to ending the scourge of human trafficking. This legislation will provide valuable assistance to state and local governments on the front lines of battling organized criminal syndicates and violent gangs that traffic humans for labor and sex,” said Cornyn. “I am proud to partner with Senator Wyden on this important bipartisan effort.”
The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act would authorize block grants to six locations deemed to have significant sex trafficking activity, require a workable plan to provide comprehensive, wrap-around services to sex trafficking victims – including the establishment of a shelter facility – and require demonstrated participation by all levels of law enforcement, prosecutors, and social service providers.
Each grant will be funded at $2-2.5 million per year with the option of renewal for two additional years. Some of the items that can be funded by these block grants include:
· A shelter for trafficking victims;
· Clothing and other daily needs in order to keep victims from returning to the street;
· Victims' assistance counseling and legal services;
· Education or job training classes for victims;
· Specialized training for law enforcement and social service providers;
· Police officer salaries - patrol officers, detectives, investigators;
· Prosecutor salaries, and other trial expenses;
· Investigation expenses - wire taps, expert consultants, travel, other "technical assistance" expenditures; and
· Outreach, education, and prevention efforts, including programs to deter offenders.
The bill will help encourage and boost prompt reporting of missing and abducted children to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. With the help of more timely reporting, law enforcement will be able to identify repeat runaways who are statistically more likely to be lured into prostitution.